Quick update…

My sister, Andrea Scotting, is a food-obsessed nut, but I love her anyway. She talks about food ALL THE TIME. Drives me nuts. She knows the intimate details of Julia Child’s famously complicated recipe for boeuf bourguignon, and the fundamental distinctions between Indian favorites chicken tikka masala and chicken korma (they taste the same to me). I don’t know much about food. Apparently I care about it, since I’m a large guy and I clearly eat lots of it. But talk about it? Nah. My mouth is usually too full.

I’m happy, however, to discuss the intricacies of the pre-WLS liquid diet, which I started today.

Oh the horror! I’m sleeping with Microsoft!

I’m at my pre-op appointment with anesthesia. I hate anesthesia. Even more, I hate that they are using antediluvian, crash-prone Windows computers. I’m a Mac guy.

I hope they don’t use these in the OR. Need to remember to sneak in my iPhone just in case.


The Devil is Two Months Dead

I’ve eaten no McDonald’s for two months. No Big Macs, Quarter Pounders, Chicken McNuggets or Apple Pies washed down with Diet Coke. No fries. Nothing.

The good part is I feel great. There’s no bad part.

The clock is ticking closer to Surgery Day (5/10/10) and I’m as ready as I’ll ever be. Hopefully no hiccups with the surgery date (see my prior post) and I’ll be on my way.

Depression, Obesity and Star Trek

My gastric bypass is scheduled for May 10, 2010. My depression is scheduled for every day. There’s a possibility one is going to bump the other off the agenda. Let’s just say there are some medications I’ve taken that I won’t be able to use after my bypass. Things could get dicey. Then again, maybe not.

The question is, am I willing to give up a weapon or two to fight the Big D? The exchange would be a me that’s smaller, healthier and perhaps less likely to suffer a Major D. I’d gain a different weapon too – the hard exercise I can’t really do now, but that’s proven to help lift biologically depressed spirits. On the other hand, what if I do experience a Major D and can’t find my way back out?

It’s like the Kobayashi Maru test (apologies if you’re not a Star Trek enthusiast). Not-yet-Captain Kirk is faced with a no-win scenario; he can face almost certain death attempting to save a stranded ship from a Klingon attack, or he can do nothing and let the crew perish. Silly? Maybe a baseball analogy works better: It’s the seventh game of the World Series and you’re managing the underdog team. It’s incredible that you’ve taken the team this far, but to capture the title you need your ace starting pitcher. The problem is he pitched in game five, so he’d be coming in on just two days rest. Either he’ll dig deep and win, or he’ll collapse early, handing the title to the other guys. Another silly comparison. Still, tough choices all around.

It turns out Captain Kirk cheated on his test. I’ve got a similarly easy way out. Sort of. I could skip the bypass and get banded instead. The gastric band is a silicone device implanted in your abdomen, wrapping around the upper part of your stomach and restricting the amount of food you can eat. Unlike the bypass, the implant causes no malabsorption, which is the crux of my medication issue. But you don’t lose as much weight, and you don’t lose it nearly as fast. It can slip, break or erode your stomach wall (eowww!), which means more surgery. Plus, it’s easier to ‘eat around’ the band, negating its benefits. I know in my heart that the band isn’t the right choice. It’s a cheat that won’t work for me.

Yes, the bypass has downsides too, like ‘dumping syndrome,’ when your body freaks out from too much sugar. But in my mind, dumping is also a benefit. Like a trained dog, you learn to stop before you get into trouble. It’s also not reversible, unlike the band. And you have to rely on protein shakes to stay strong and vitamin supplements to avoid weird diseases like rickets or beriberi. On the positive side, the bypass causes rapid, dramatic weight loss – a major motivator, agrees my longtime therapist T. Don. It alters hormone production, which along with a smaller stomach pouch helps you feel sated faster and on less food. It promotes significantly greater weight loss, which means it’s more certain I’ll avoid major obesity complications, like diabetes and heart disease. The greater weight loss will also help alleviate my sleep apnea and aching knees.

I’ve spent far too long ignoring my obesity. It’s time to take decisive action. But it’s frustrating that the solution to my weight problem seems to come at the expense of my depression. So, what to do?

My abusive relationship

I’m in an abusive relationship. I’m being hurt and belittled, made to feel ashamed. I’m being tortured. I’ve tried and tried to break it off, but I just can’t. I don’t know if I can make it on my own. Besides, I’m in love.

Sorry for the soap-opera-melodrama. But honestly, that’s what my obesity feels like sometimes, when I’m struggling. Truth is, I’ve got this horribly weird and twisted relationship with food. Gotta eat to live, but the way I eat is killing me. What’s surprising is that I didn’t see the unhealthy nature of my relationship with food sooner. I’m a bright, educated guy, a problem solver. I don’t see why it should be hard for me to recognize an untenable situation and get out. Tough to look in the mirror, I guess.

I’m trying hard, harder than I ever have, to change my relationship with food. I think it might be easier if I could just go cold turkey; stop eating today, and never eat again. Instead, I have to change. I’ve already made some small steps. I’ve eliminated some of the trigger foods I simply can’t control, like McDonald’s – all fast food, really – and Cheez-Its. I’m not bingeing on greasy Chinese or overwhelming Indian lunch buffets. I’m getting myself off coffee and other caffeine, in preparation for my upcoming surgery. I’m adding other things to the list. I strongly believe that the visible and dramatic initial weight loss of gastric bypass will make it that much easier to say goodbye to the worst of the worst.

The thing is, no matter how much weight I lose, no matter how successful my gastric bypass turns out, I’m always going to be an addict. Gastric bypass is just a tool to help me along. What I really have to do – what I’ve already started doing – is divorce myself from the abusive relationship. I’ve got to leave the old Mike behind, so I can evolve into the new Mike.

Parachutes and a camera in the basement

I’m at our local YMCA (next door to the McDonald’s Devil no less), in the kids gym with my son Ari, for his friend Aaron’s 4th birthday party. There are a bunch of little ones playing ‘Alligator Under The Parachute,’ which mostly seems to involve waving a large round canvas up and down and darting under it as it flutters to the floor. Lots of laughs.

Wish I had a camera with me to capture my little guy. But it’s at home, not exactly forgotten, but not remembered either.

We are blessed to have a nice home, especially in these tough economic times. Sure, we’ve had our share of setbacks like everyone else, but we’ve never missed a mortgage payment. The old house is too important to us. It’s a typical New England colonial, with a brick front and dated vinyl siding, about 75-years-old, two stories plus a decent finished basement. It’s falling apart here and there, but the kids have beautiful, light-filled rooms, and it’s warm in the winter, cool in the summer heat. My problem with the house is the basement, and the two stories above it. More properly, it’s with the stairways that connect the floors.

I can never decide what’s creakier – those old stairs or my beat-up knees. I don’t have the camera to take snaps of Ari and his friends because it would’ve hurt too much to grab it off my basement desk. Wasn’t even a conscious decision, really. I just don’t go up or down if I can avoid it.

I guess I’ll have to be content with the memory or Ari trying to cross the balance beam for the first time, or of him in a party hat clapping as his best buddy blew out his birthday candles.

I really hate this shit. Forty-four days until surgery.